How does gender impact technology usage and design?
Agent-like technology, such as voice assistants, social robots, and embodied conversational agents increasingly enter our public and private spheres. Alexa, Cortana, even automated announcements on public transport – they all have one thing in common: a voice or avatar that implies strong associations with femininity. The android robots Sophia and Erica, designed as conversation companions, embody appearances, behaviourism and speech patterns that draw on traditional subservience assigned to women in cis-binary concepts of gender. This raises several questions as matters of concern: What are the dominant power structures that drive the design of virtual assistants and conversation companions? How does machine learning reinforce stereotypes? And what are the societal consequences of these technologies? On the other hand, Gender HCI also raises questions if something like gender-specific usage differences exist and how they can be taken into account for gender sensitive design.
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